October 28, 2010 | by Chris Johnson
Obama on marriage: ‘attitudes evolve, including mine’

President Obama on Wednesday suggested that his position on same-sex marriage may “evolve” over time during a news conference with progressive bloggers.

“But I also think you’re right that attitudes evolve, including mine,” Obama said. “And I think that it is an issue that I wrestle with and think about because I have a whole host of friends who are in gay partnerships.”

The president said he’s a “strong supporter of civil unions” and has been “unwilling to sign on” to support for same-sex marriage because of his “understandings of the traditional definitions of marriage.”

Obama, who opposes same-sex marriage, made the comments in response to question from Joe Sudbay, deputy editor of AMERICABlog, was among the bloggers invited to the news conference. Read the complete transcript of Sudbay’s question-and-answer session on LGBT issues with Obama here.

Discussion of “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” also made up a significant portion of the conference. Obama sidestepped a question on whether he thinks “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” is constitutional. The president said “it’s not a simple yes or no question” because he’s not sitting on the U.S. Supreme Court.

If the president deemed the law unconstitutional, he could discontinue enforcement of the statute, although the courts would have the final say in the matter.

“Here’s what I can say,” Obama added. “I think ‘Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell’ is wrong. I think it doesn’t serve our national security, which is why I want it overturned. I think that the best way to overturn it is for Congress to act.”

Emphasizing that his “hope and expectation” is that Congress can repeal the statute, Obama said he’s been “as systematic and methodical” as he can in trying to move forward with mitigating the impact “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” given his legal constraints.

Earlier this month, Defense Secretary Robert Gates issued new guidance on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” that limits the authority on discharges to the civilian service secretary of the department concerned. Further, these secretaries can only make discharges “in coordination” with the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness and the Pentagon’s general counsel.

Obama said he would “be involved” in pushing the Senate to move forward with “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” repeal legislation this year after Election Day, but declined to comment on whether support from Defense Secretary Robert Gates would be part of this process.

“I’m not going to tip my hand now,” Obama said. “But there is a strategy.”

Referencing the Log Cabin Republicans’ litigation against “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell,” Obama said he doesn’t “understand the logic” of the lawsuit and said he needs the organization to find Republican votes to move forward with legislative repeal in the Senate.

“You’re financing a very successful, very effective legal strategy, and yet the only really thing you need to do is make sure that we get two to five Republican votes in the Senate,” Obama said.

Obama also took at dig at those who don’t think he’s doing enough on “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” and other LGBT issues and said he doesn’t “think that the disillusionment is justified.”

“So I don’t begrudge the LGBT community pushing, but the flip side of it is that this notion somehow that this administration has been a source of disappointment to the LGBT community, as opposed to a stalwart ally of the LGBT community, I think is wrong,” Obama said.

Chris Johnson is Chief Political & White House Reporter for the Washington Blade. Johnson attends the daily White House press briefings and is a member of the White House Correspondents' Association. Follow Chris

7 Comments
  • Tradition? It’s funny (not) and weird that a man who is part Black uses the word “tradition”. Traditionally, Black people in America were slaves and after slavery the U.S. Constitution had to be amended so that Black people were considered citizens, etc. Then (and now) Black citizens had to take to the streets to be treated like American citizens. Opposite-sex marriage didn’t mean anything to slave owners or Congress or the church because Black families were split apart by selling spouses and children away from each other. So much for “marriage tradition” and “family values”. Now homosexuals have to take to the streets and wait until heterosexual “attitudes evolve”.

    How come Congress are not asked questions so that the people will know the names and faces of national lawmakers who, based on their personal bias and religious beliefs, deny certain citizens equal rights?

  • What a fucking fraud. Obama ran on arrogance and empty rhetoric and most were too stupid to see it. Well, we’re now getting what we deserve. When you elect as obviously narcissistic and ego driven as Obama, you kind of have to expect to get burned.

  • I’m not arrogant or white. I like President Obama but he should just really say what he thinks because he can’t satisfy everyone, which he seems to want to do. I’m not a queen and Obama is not a king who has total power, so he can’t do it all by himself. Obama is a hetero-male, religious and uses words like “tradition”. USA leaders are not very progressive and drag their feet on every issue that doesn’t even need to be an issue. I am an American citizen and should have the same rights as heterosexuals to marry the person I love, etc, without my neighbor voting on it. The US military is not the only place of employment that has DADT. Gay people in USA should not have to deal with “tradition” that makes it harder to pursue happiness and live freely. I don’t use illegal drugs and so far in USA, I still have the right to speak my mind whether you like what I say or not.

  • If it’s all about “traditional definitions of marriage,” then I assume he’ll affirm my right to multiple wives, concubines, and POW sex slaves. Anyone who knows about the *real* traditional definitions of marriage will know what I mean.

  • We are all being patronized by President Obama… imagine, holding equality and “sameness” in front of us like a carrot stick before the horse. TYPICAL politicization of each and every one of our lives, this time for the democrats to exploit into the future ad infinitum. THAT’S NOT CHANGE! THAT’S SAME!

    Every other person but Obama would be called a bigot today, this week, who would tell the nation’s LGBT kids and teens that they should not expect to be able to get married, and raise a family in dignity and equality, like those “other” Americans. “Tradition!!!!!!!!!!” he is explaining. Sort of.

    Wow, I hate to be used, don’t you? Using you and me and our friends and families as voting bait? Like every other politician has before him? Yes, of course he is and yes of course the Democrats are… just like the Republicans did, and still do… just like Republicans…

    So. What to do, what to do. Where to turn and what to do… hmmm.

    I’m afraid that possibly Joe Wilson was right about him when it comes to our well-being, and our place in this nation/world. Oh, “but this is how it’s DONE”?? Is that it, HRC? Well, then, again, that is NOT change; so I can no longer “believe in” it if it’s just same. And quite possibly we were fools yet again for ever having believed it in the first place. Of course we were: if CHANGE equaled SAME/NO-CHANGE, then epic fail. Better than Bush? Yes, but that’s not what he promised.

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